This is the second time I am writing about Jumba la Mtwana, you can read the first post here. I recently visited the ruins and got a chance to explore more and taken more photos which I thought were worth sharing.

I took the trip with my brother who after the heavy lunch we had had in Mtwapa decided he would much rather nap on the beach than take a tour of the ruins. This time I skipped going into the museum.

I searched high and low on the internet for information about Jumba la Mtwana . I specifically searched for a paper written by Hamo Sassoon,  titled ‘The Coastal Town of Jumba la Mtwana’ published in the 12th issue of  Kenya Past and Present. There was no trace of the paper online. In the end I sourced all my information from this website and I suspect that the site got the information from the aforementioned elusive paper.

Jumba la Mtwana was opened to the public in 1973 and was gazetted as a national monument in 1982. Jumba la Mtwana, also known as “Jumba Ruins” is located approximately 20km (15km north of Mombasa, 3km off the Mombasa-Malindi road north of Mombasa in Mtwapa).

The name Jumba la Mtwana means in Swahili “the large house of the slave” however there are no written records to support this. The only thing we can be absolutely certain about is that the inhabitants were Muslims; the ruined mosques are the evidence for this.

Jumba was only inhabited for three or four generations. The Chinese porcelain and other kinds of pottery excavated in the ruins show that the occupation lasted from about 1350 to 1450, but without any written history of the area these dates must not be regarded as very accurate.

 The ruins at Jumba include the remains of about eight houses, three mosques and a tomb.

Of the 3 mosques within the Ruins; the best preserved is the Mosque by the Sea. Like all mosques on this coast it is aligned with the Mihrab to the north. The main hall of the mosque is large; it probably had a flat roof made of lime concrete and supported on six pillars, but there is now no sign of the stone bases for these pillars.

Jumba la Mtwana_Mosque by the sea


Jumba la mtwana_Mosque by the sea1Mosque by the sea


At the south end of the Mosque there is a separate area that could have been assigned for women.

Jumba la Mtwana_Mosque by the sea2


The second mosque described in the text is The Small Mosque And The Big Well

Jumba la Mtwana_Small mosque with a big well


At the south end of the mosque there is a very fine well, which still contains good drinking water; it is 10.5 meters (35 ft) deep.

Jumba la Mtwana-Well1


The 3rd mosque is located closer to the beach. I was able to identify it thanks to the Mihrab and there was also a well next to it.

Jumba la mtwana_mosque


Jumba la Mtwana_Mihrab


I threw in a little rock to test how deep the well is and I didn’t hear it landing, perhaps I should have used a larger one.

Jumba la Mtwana_Well


Onto the houses, the first one I came across is the house of many doors.

Jumba la mtwana_house of many doors


Jumba la Mtwana_House of the many doors1The interior


Jumba la Mtwana_House of the many doors2


Jumba la mtwana_Doorway


Across the house of the many doors is the house of the cylinder. If it weren’t for the sign I wouldn’t have been able to identify it from the text.

Jumba la mtwana_The house of the cylinder (2)


Jumba la Mtwana_The house of the cylinderThat kind of looks like some  sort of bath tub, no?


Jumba la Mtwana_Vidaka


Doorways frequently had niches (Swahili: Vidaka) on either side, perhaps for a copy of the Quran or for pottery lamps in which some vegetable oil would have been burnt.

Exercise caution when walking around the ruins, there were a couple of holes in the ruins and not all of them were fenced. The National Museums of Kenya have made an attempt to maintain the grounds but they can definitely do better.

Jumba la Mtwana_Hole


And now here is a series of pictures with no explanations because I could not find any information about the structures.

Jumba la mtwana_Door


Jumba la Mtwana_Doorway (2)


Jumba la mtwana_ruins2


The only info I can give about the structure is that it is among the 8 houses and is located near the 3rd mosque.

Jumba la mtwana_ruins


Jumba la mtwana_ruins1The above ruins were located between the house of the many doors and the house of the cylinder


This house was located near the small mosque with the big well.

Jumba la Mtwana_Vidaka



The ruins are located in a wooded area and there was no shortage of wild creatures

Jumba la Mtwana_Slug


Jumba la Mtwana_Hornbill


Once I was done exploring I went to take a walk on the beach. I had intended to swim but it is the cold season in Kenya so the weather was as warm.

Jumba la mtwana_view of the beach


Jumba la mtwana_Bench


Jumba la mtwana_Beach


The weather however was ideal for kite surfing so I spent my time on the beach watching this guy

Jumba la mtwana_beach1


I had no idea that the beach was a turtle nesting area so I was pleasantly surprised to see marked turtle nests. There was one big ‘nursery’ then a couple of lone nest clearly marked with the day they were laid and the hatching date.

Jumba la Mtwana_Turtle nests



Jumba la mtwana_charges



Wear closed shoes when walking around the ruins and carry a pair of sandals for walking on the beach

Carry a picnic lunch, the prices at the closest restaurant  are not pocket friendly.


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  1. June 7, 2015 at 3:21 pm — Reply

    Lovely! I would love checking out this ruin. It’s always nice to get a glimpse into the past. Great pictures as usual, l love the snail one. Looks like l could just reach out, boil it, fry it..and eat it 🙂

  2. June 9, 2015 at 8:45 pm — Reply

    Thanks for the journey back here! I would love to see photos of the mosques in their glory days.

    • Livison
      April 12, 2016 at 8:35 pm — Reply

      Wonderful place to be!

  3. June 27, 2015 at 7:15 pm — Reply

    We just returned from our first trip to Kenya, and loved it! We didn’t go to the coast, so I’d love to check out the coastal areas as well as more of Nairobi. I’m a huge fan of exploring old ruins. I love your blog, and it has a ton of great info.

    • June 28, 2015 at 1:10 pm — Reply

      Which places did you get to visit? The coast of late hasn’t been a popular destination for tourists of late but now that the travel advisories have been lifted maybe there will be more vistors. You should definitely check it out on your next visit.

  4. April 12, 2016 at 8:30 pm — Reply

    I shall be taking my students to the site this week. I once visited the place when I was in high school. I want them to have an opportunity to learn about the past and see how fast the world is changing.

    Thanks for the info. It is great! Just perfect to brief the students before the actual visit.

    March 31, 2018 at 3:59 pm — Reply

    Thank you Rachael! I am a descendent of the Mandhry Arabs tribe that lived in Mombasa some to this date, and your piece evokes wonderful memories of the glory of the similarly wanderlust Arabs who came down to the Coast of East Africa with the monsoon winds from Oman and made it their home.

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